Children's memory for traumatic injury

Child Dev. 1996 Dec;67(6):3045-70.


Children between 2 and 13 years who suffered traumatic injury necessitating hospital emergency room treatment were recruited as subjects. They (and adult witnesses) were interviewed a few days and 6 months later, using free and probed recall, about both injury and hospital treatment. Children at all ages were able to provide considerable information about both stressful events, although the amount of detail increased with age. They also made few commission errors. Surprisingly, children's distress at time of injury did not affect the amount or accuracy of their recall of that event, whereas distress during hospital treatment did decrease recall. A tripartite classification into 3 categories of detail was used: central, peripheral--inside the emotional events, or peripheral--outside those events. Children's recall differed depending upon detail category. Implications for children's testimony are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*